Thursday, July 19, 2018

[Botany • 2018] Tupistra siphonantha (Asparagaceae) • A New Species from Lao P.D.R. with A Simple Pistil

Tupistra siphonantha  N. Tanaka, Vislobokov & D. P. Hannon

in Tanaka, Hannon & Vislobokov, 2018. 

Tupistra siphonantha N. Tanaka, Vislobokov & D. P. Hannon, a new species from central Laos is described and illustrated. It is distinguishable from all other members of Tupistra mainly by the synchronously blooming flowers, clavate-tubular, cream-white or fulvous perianth with strongly incurved segments, latrorse anthers with thecae separated by a round (papillary) projection from the perianth, and very small, simple pistil bearing a single ovule in the locule. It is also unique in having ellipsoid, smooth, orange fruits that are similar to those of Rohdea. The taxonomic position and features of the flowers and fruits of this species are briefly discussed. A key to the species of Tupistra reported from Laos is also provided.

Key Words: Affinity, Aspidistreae, Convallarieae, Indochina, lithophyte, new species, Rohdea 

Fig. 1 Tupistra siphonantha (under cultivation).
A whole plant with two flowering scapes; B spike of fulvous flowers; C spike of beige flowers; D plant with hanging scape bearing whitish flowers; E spike of creamy white flowers (close up of spike from D); F basal part of plant in fruit; G fruiting scape with remnants of withered flowers; H four orange fruits; J three seeds (left) and one fruit cut to show inside (right).
Photos: D. P. Hannon. layout: N. Tanaka.

Tupistra siphonantha N. Tanaka, Vislobokov & D. P. Hannon sp. nov. 
Type: Laos, Khammouane Province, D. P. Hannon s.n. (holotype HNT!; isotype K!).

Recognition: Differs from all other members of Tupistra by the synchronously blooming flowers, clavate-tubular, cream-white or fulvous perianths with strongly incurved segments, latrorse anthers with thecae prominently separated by a round protrusion from the perianth, and very small, simple pistil bearing a single ovule in the locule.

Etymology: The specific epithet refers to the tubular flowers.

Noriyuki Tanaka, Dylan P. Hannon and Nikolay A. Vislobokov. 2018. Tupistra siphonantha (Asparagaceae), A New Species from Lao P.D.R. with A Simple Pistil. Kew Bulletin. 73:32.  DOI: 10.1007/s12225-018-9754-5

[Botany • 2018] Orobanche javakhetica (Orobanchaceae) • A New Species from the Caucasus (Armenia)

Orobanche javakhetica Piwow., Ó. Sánchez & Moreno Mor.

in Piwowarczyk, Pedraja, Moral, et al., 2018. 

Orobanche javakhetica (Orobanchaceae) is described as a new, probably endemic, species from the Lesser Caucasus in Armenia. It grows on a subalpine meadow, where it parasitises Lomelosia caucasica (Dipsacaceae). The newly-described species is very characteristic and different from other known Orobanche, however some morphological similarity may exist with species from the Orobanche subsect. Curvatae, particularly with species of the Orobanche series Krylowianae. A detailed description, illustrations, a comparison with the most similar species with identification key, and phylogenetic analysis are provided.

Keywords: Lomelosia caucasica, Javakheti range, Lesser Caucasus, holoparasites, taxonomy, Orobanche, plant parasites, Eudicots

FIGURE 2. Inflorescences and general habit of Orobanche javakhetica.

 Photos by Renata Piwowarczyk.

Orobanche javakhetica Piwow., Ó. Sánchez & Moreno Mor., sp. nov.  

Etymology:― The epithet ‘javakhetica’ derives from the name of the Javakheti mountain range (Dzhavakheti range), where the new species was discovered.

  Habitat with the dominant host species of Lomelosia caucasica.
Photos by Renata Piwowarczyk.

Renata Piwowarczyk, Óscar Sánchez Pedraja, Gonzalo Moreno Moral , Magdalena Denysenko-Bennett and Grzegorz Góralski and Dagmara Kwolek. 2018. Orobanche javakhetica (Orobanchaceae): A New Species from the Caucasus (Armenia). Phytotaxa. 360(2); 135–144. DOI:  10.11646/phytotaxa.360.2.5
Orobanche javakhetica Piwow., Ó. Sánchez & Moreno Mor. - nowy gatunek dla nauki z Armenii. Dzisiaj się ukazała publikacja w Phytotaxa,
Rośnie na około 2230 m n.p.m. i pasożytuje na Lomelosia caucasica (Dipsacaceae). Nazwę nadałam od pasma górskiego Javakheti, gdzie został znaleziony.

Renata Piwowarczyk

[Herpetology • 2018] Phrynopus mariellaleo • A New Species of Phrynopus (Anura: Craugastoridae) from the northeastern Andes of Peru, Its Phylogenetic Position, and Notes on the Relationships of Holoadeninae

Phrynopus mariellaleo 
Venegas, Barboza, De la Riva & Padial, 2018

 Photographs by Pablo J. Venegas.

We report the discovery of a geographically disjunct and morphologically distinctive species of direct-developing frog of the genus Phrynopus (Phrynopus mariellaleo sp. nov.) that changes considerably our understanding of the distribution of species in this Andean genus. The type locality lies on a subcordillera (Cerro de Campanario area) of the extreme northeastern portion of the Cordillera Central of Peru, on the headwaters of the Mayo River, Amazonas department, at 2575 m asl (6°6’42.9’’S, 77°26’24’’W). This area is situated 170 km to the NE from the northernmost record of Phrynopus known so far. Molecular phylogenetic analyses of a supermatrix (13269 aligned positions of gene sequences of four mitochondrial and ten nuclear genes) of 105 terminals (representing 93 named and 9 unnamed species of Holoadeninae) recover this new species as the sister to Phrynopus auriculatus, a species occurring more than 500 km south of the type locality of the new species. Both Phrynopus auriculatus and the new species occur at moderate elevations on the easternmost stretches of the Andean subcordilleras; their sister relationship point to a potentially broader distribution of species of Phrynopus along the poorly sampled intervening areas of the eastern hills of the Andes. The new species has a conspicuous and visibly large tympanic membrane (a trait rare in the clade), outlined by a marked bold black supratympanic fold and a black facial mask, and exhibits conspicuous dorsolateral, scapular, and middorsal Y-shaped folds. Specimens were found on the forest floor—a rocky substrate covered by a thick layer of leaf litter, moss and roots—of a primary humid montane forest (Yungas ecoregion) with scattered patches of bamboo (Chusquea spp.). Our phylogenetic analyses corroborate the monophyly of all Holoadeninae genera, including Euparkerella and Psychrophrynella, genera for which tests of monophyly were pending, and corroborates Hypodactylus nigrovittatus as part of Hypodactylus and sister to a clade that includes H. brunneus, H. elassodiscus and H. peraccai.

Keywords: Amphibia, Alto Mayo, Amazon Basin, Cordillera Central, dynamic homology, Terrarana, tree-alignment, Yungas

FIGURE 2. Dorsal (A) and ventral (B) views, and lateral view of head (C) of the female holotype (CORBIDI 11668) of Phrynopus mariellaleo sp. nov. in preservative (SVL = 39.7). Photographs by Pablo J. Venegas.

FIGURE 4. Paratypes of Phrynopus mariellaleo sp. nov. showing variation in dorsal and ventral external morphological traits.
(A, B) adult female (CORBIDI 11692), (C, D) adult female (CORBIDI 11657).
 Photographs by Pablo J. Venegas.

Phrynopus mariellaleo sp. nov.

 Etymology. The specific name “mariellaleo” is a patronym (used as a substantive in apposition) for Mariella Leo, in recognition of her tireless efforts to preserve biological diversity in Peru. Since 1982 she has been working for the Asociación Peruana para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (APECO), one of the most important non-profit organizations dedicated to biological conservation in Peru. With APECO, Mariella continues to work for the protection of montane ecosystems in Amazonas Department, including the area where the new species was discovered.

FIGURE 4. Paratypes of Phrynopus mariellaleo sp. nov. showing variation in dorsal and ventral external morphological traits. (A, B) adult female (CORBIDI 11692), (C, D) adult female (CORBIDI 11657), and (E, F) adult male (CORBIDI 11658).
Photographs by Pablo J. Venegas.

Pablo J. Venegas, Andy C. Barboza, Ignacio De la Riva and José M. Padial. 2018. A New Species of Phrynopus from the northeastern Andes of Peru, Its Phylogenetic Position, and Notes on the Relationships of Holoadeninae (Anura: Craugastoridae).  Zootaxa. 4446(4); 501–524.  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4446.4.5

[Paleontology • 2018] Xiaophis myanmarensis • A mid-Cretaceous Embryonic-to-neonate Snake in Amber from Myanmar

Xiaophis myanmarensis
Xing, Caldwell, Chen, Nydam, Palci, Simões, McKellar, Lee, Liu, Shi, Wang & Bai, 2018

We present the first known fossilized snake embryo/neonate preserved in early Late Cretaceous (Early Cenomanian) amber from Myanmar, which at the time, was an island arc including terranes from Austral Gondwana. This unique and very tiny snake fossil is an articulated postcranial skeleton, which includes posterior precloacal, cloacal, and caudal vertebrae, and details of squamation and body shape; a second specimen preserves a fragment of shed skin interpreted as a snake. Important details of skeletal ontogeny, including the stage at which snake zygosphene-zygantral joints began to form along with the neural arch lamina, are preserved. The vertebrae show similarities to those of fossil Gondwanan snakes, suggesting a dispersal route of Gondwanan faunas to Laurasia. Finally, the new species is the first Mesozoic snake to be found in a forested environment, indicating greater ecological diversity among early snakes than previously thought.

Fig. 1. Overview of amber clast with synchrotron x-ray µCT image of articulated snake skeleton (DIP-S-0907).
 Amber clast with included skeletal material.  

Fig. 4. Light photographs of probable snake shed skin (DIP-V-15104).

Systematic paleontology
 Squamata Oppel, 1811 
Serpentes Linnaeus, 1758 

Xiaophis myanmarensis gen. et sp. nov. 

Holotype: DIP-S-0907 [Dexu Institute of Palaeontology (DIP)], articulated postcranial skeleton (Total Length = 47.5 mm), ~97 vertebrae and ribs, and integument. 

Type locality/horizon: Angbamo site, Tanai Township, Myitkyina District, Kachin Province, Myanmar (98.8 ± 0.6 Ma ago; earliest Cenomanian). 

Etymology: Xiaophis”—Xiao from the Chinese word for “dawn” and in honor of Xiao Jia, the amber specialist who donated the specimens to the DIP, Chaozhou, China; ophis, Greek for snake; and “myanmarensis” in recognition of Myanmar.

An artist's conception of snakes that recently emerged from their eggs, on the floor of the amber-producing forest of Myanmar 99 million years ago. (Yi Liu)

the inferred pattern of light and dark pigmentation on the larger snake, based on a skin fragment found in Burmese amber. (Yi Liu)

Lida Xing, Michael W. Caldwell, Rui Chen, Randall L. Nydam, Alessandro Palci, Tiago R. Simões, Ryan C. McKellar, Michael S. Y. Lee, Ye Liu, Hongliang Shi, Kuan Wang and Ming Bai. 2018. A mid-Cretaceous Embryonic-to-neonate Snake in Amber from Myanmar. Science Advances. 4(7); eaat5042. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat5042

Oldest baby snake fossil, 99 million years old, discovered in Myanmar via @usatoday
First Baby Snake From Dinosaur Era Found in Amber via @NatGeoScience
Rare baby snake fossil found in amber from Age of Dinosaurs


[Botany • 2018] Agave maria-patriciae (Polycephalae Group: Asparagaceae) • A New Species from Central Coastal Veracruz, Mexico

Agave maria-patriciae Cházaro & Arzaba

in Arzaba-Villalba, Cházaro-Basáñez & Viveros-Colorado, 2018

Agave maria-patriciae Cházaro & Arzaba is described and illustrated here as a new species from the central coast of the state of Veracruz in Mexico. It belongs to the subgenus Littaea and Polycephalae group, which contains tropical and subtropical species from the American continent. Agave maria-patriciae is closely related to A. pendula, but differs from the latter by having smaller rosettes, shorter and suberect stems and smaller and subsessile flowers. It is only known from a small population in the oak forest from the mountains of Sierra de Monte de Oro in the municipality of Alto Lucero in eastern Mexico.

Keywords: Agave, endemic, new species, Polycephalae, Veracruz, Monocots

FIGURE 3. Agave maria-patriciae:
 A. habit, B. Flower, C. unripe fruits, D. detail of the rosette, E. leaf with central stripe.

FIGURE 2. Agave maria-patriciae.
A. Flower, B. Tepals, C. Sagittal view of flower, D. Capsules and bracteole, E. Transversal section of the capsule, F. seed, G. Leaf, H. Denticles at margin, I, J. Habit. Illustration by first author from C. Arzaba et al. 451, XAL—holotype. The numbers beside barscales denote centimeters.

Agave maria-patriciae Cházaro & Arzaba sp. nov. 

 Agave maria-patriciae is most similar to A. pendula by sharing lanceolate to oblong leaves with a central yellow stripe, but it differs in its shorter leaves, stems and floral scape; presence of continuous reddish margins along the leaves, thicker terminal spine and larger denticles, its smaller and succulent flowers with reflexed and not broadly cucullate tepals and subsessile capsules. 

Type:— MEXICO. Veracruz: municipality of Alto Lucero, summit of Cerro La Bandera, NE of La Yerbabuena village, 660 m, 07 January 2016 (fl. & fr.), C. Arzaba 451 et al. (holotype XAL!; isotypes CHAPA!, MEXU!).

Etymology:— The species name is dedicated to Mrs. María Patricia Hernández, wife of the second author, who in the 1980s and early 1990s was a great companion in numerous field trips even to remote areas. As a result, several hundreds of botanical specimens are labeled as “M. Cházaro & P. Hernández”, deposited in the main herbaria of Mexico and the USA. She also mounted hundreds of exsiccata at the WIS and IBUG herbaria, as well as coauthored several papers on succulent plants of Mexico.

Carlos Arzaba-Villalba, Miguel Cházaro-Basáñez and César Viveros-Colorado. 2018. Agave maria-patriciae (Polycephalae Group: Asparagaceae), A New Species from Central Coastal Veracruz, Mexico. Phytotaxa. 360(3); 263–268.  DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.360.3.6

Resumen: Agave maria-patriciae Cházaro & Arzaba es descrita e ilustrada como una nueva especie de la costa central del estado de Veracruz en México. Pertenece al subgénero Littaea y al grupo Polycephalae, el cual contiene especies tropicales y subtropicales del continente americano. A. maria-patriciae está estrechamente relacionado con A. pendula pero difiere de ésta última al poseer rosetas más pequeñas, tallos más cortos y suberectos y flores de menor tamaño y subsésiles. Solo se conoce de una pequeña población en bosque de encino en la Sierra de Monte de Oro, en el municipio de Alto Lucero, en el oriente de México. 
Palabras-clave: Agave, endémica, nueva especie, Polycephalae, Veracruz

[Herpetology • 2018] Selvasaura brava • Systematics of Neotropical Microteiid Lizards (Gymnophthalmidae, Cercosaurinae), with the Description of A New Genus and Species from the Andean Montane Forests

 Selvasaura brava
Moravec, Šmíd, Štundl & Lehr, 2018

Cercosaurine lizards (subfamily Cercosaurinae of the family Gymnophthalmidae) represent a substantial component of the reptile fauna in the Neotropics. Several attempts have been made to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships within this group, but most studies focused on particular genera or regions and did not cover the subfamily as a whole. In this study, material from the montane forests of Peru was newly sequenced. In combination with all cercosaurine sequences available on GenBank, an updated phylogeny of Cercosaurinae is provided. Monophyly was not supported for three of the currently recognised genera (Echinosaura, Oreosaurus, and Proctoporus). The genus Proctoporus is formed by five monophyletic groups, which should be used in future taxonomic revisions as feasible entities. Recognition of two previously identified undescribed clades (Unnamed clades 2 and 3) was supported and yet another undescribed clade (termed here Unnamed clade 4), which deserves recognition as an independent genus, was identified herein. Selvasaura brava, a new genus and new species of arboreal gymnophthalmid lizard is described from the montane forests of the Pui Pui Protected Forest, Provincia de Chanchamayo, Región Junín, Peru. The new species is characterised by its small size (SVL 42.1–45.9 mm), slender body, smooth head shields, presence of paired prefrontal shields, fused anteriormost supraocular and anteriormost superciliary shields, transparent not divided lower palpebral disc, slightly rugose subimbricate rectangular dorsal scales in adults (slightly keeled in juveniles), distinctly smaller but non-granular lateral scales, smooth squared to rectangular ventral scales, and hemipenial lobes large, distinct from the hemipenial body. Phylogenetic affinities of the new genus to the other cercosaurine genera, as well as basal phylogenetic relationships between the other cercosaurine genera remain unresolved.

Keywords: Andes, arboreality, phylogeny, reptile diversity, Selvasaura gen. n., Selvasaura brava sp. n., taxonomy

Family Gymnophthalmidae Fitzinger, 1826
Subfamily Cercosaurinae Gray, 1838

Genus Selvasaura gen. n.
Unnamed clade 3 (in Torres-Carvajal et al. 2016)

Type species: Selvasaura brava sp. n.

Diagnosis: Phenotypic synapomorphies are not known for this genus. Morphologically, Selvasaura gen. n. can be distinguished from all other genera of Cercosaurinae by the combination of the following characters: lower palpebral disc transparent, not divided (divided in Andinosaura, Euspondylus, Gelanesaurus, Oreosaurus, Petracola, Riama, and most Anadia and Placosoma species; opaque in Pholidobolus); dorsal scales slightly rugose (smooth in Anadia; keeled in Cercosaura; strongly keeled and tuberculate in Echinosaura, Gelanesaurus, Neusticurus, Potamites; minute tubercles on posterior dorsal scales in Placosoma); lateral scales distinctly smaller than dorsal scales (lateral scales not distinctly reduced in size in Macropholidus); lateral scales adjacent to ventrals non-granular (granular in Proctoporus) (see e.g., Oftedal 1974; Cadle and Chuna 1995; Altamirano-Benavides et al. 2013; Kok et al. 2013; Torres-Carvajal and Mafla-Endara 2013; Echevarría et al. 2015; Borges-Nojosa et al. 2016; Chávez et al. 2017; Sánchez-Pacheco et al. 2017b). Genetically, the genus is differentiated from the other cercosaurines by distances given in Table 3 and 4.

Definition: (1) head shields smooth; (2) frontoparietal and parietal shields paired; (3) frontonasal, frontal and interparietal shields single; (4) prefrontal shields present; (5) lower palpebral disc transparent, not divided; (6) loreal shield present; (7) scale organs on labials present; (8) anteriormost supraocular and anteriormost superciliary shields fused; (9) dorsal surface of the tongue covered by scale-like papillae; (10) nuchal scales smooth; (11) dorsal scales rectangular, slightly rugose; (12) ventral scales squared to rectangular, smooth; (13) limbs pentadactyl, digits clawed; (14) femoral pores present in males, absent in females; (15) hemipenial lobes large, distinct from the hemipenial body.

Content: Selvasaura brava sp. n. and undescribed species of Unnamed clade 3 (sensu Torres-Carvajal et al. 2016) whose formal descriptions are underway (see Torres-Carvajal et al. 2016).

Distribution: Peru: Región Junín, Provincia de Chanchamayo, Pui Pui Protected Forest (Selvasaura brava sp. n.); Región San Martin, Provincia Mariscal Cáceres, Laurel (Cercosaurinae sp. 3; Torres-Carvajal et al. 2016). Ecuador: Provincia de Zamora Chinchipe, El Pangui (Cercosaurinae sp. 3; Torres-Carvajal et al. 2016); Provincia de Napo, Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary (Cercosaurinae sp. 3; Torres-Carvajal et al. 2016).

Etymology: The generic name Selvasaura is derived from the Spanish noun ‘selva’ (forest) and the Greek noun σαύρα (lizard; saura is the feminine form) and refers to the habitat (montane rainforest) of the type species.

Figure 6. Holotype of Selvasaura brava sp. n. (MUSM 32738) in life. Photographs by E. Lehr. 

Figure 7. Paratypes of Selvasaura brava sp. n. 
Dorsal (A) and ventral (B) view of adult male (NMP6V 75653) with a detail of an everted hemipenis (C)
D adult female (MUSM 32718) E – juvenile (NMP6V 75655). Note the generally uniform colouration of the female compared to the male and juvenile specimens. Photographs by J. Moravec.

Selvasaura brava sp. n.
 Suggested English name: Brave forest microtegu 
Suggested Spanish name: Microtegu selva brava

Diagnosis: A small gymnophthalmid (SVL 42.1–45.9 mm, n = 4), which can be characterised by the following combination of characters: 1) body slender, slightly depressed, maximum SVL 45.9 mm in males, 42.1 mm in a single female; 2) head relatively short, pointed, about 1.5 times longer than wide; 3) ear opening distinct, moderately recessed; 4) nasals separated by undivided frontonasal; 5) prefrontals, frontal, frontoparietals, parietals, postparietals and interparietal present; 6) parietals slightly longer than wide; 7) supraoculars four, anteriormost fused with anteriormost superciliar; 8) superciliar series complete, consisting of four scales; 9) nasal shield divided above and below or behind the nostril; 10) loreal separated or in contact with second supralabial; 11) supralabials seven; 12) genials in four pairs, first and second pair in contact; 13) collar present, containing 9–11 enlarged scales; 14) dorsals in 33–36 transverse rows, rectangular, nearly twice as long as wide, subimbricate, rugose in adults, slightly keeled in juveniles; 15) ventrals in 22–25 transverse rows, squared to rectangular, smooth, juxtaposed; 16) scales around mid-body 32–34; 17) lateral scales at mid-body reduced in 4–7 lines; 18) limbs pentadactyl, all digits clawed, forelimb reaching anteriorly to third supralabial; 19) subdigital lamellae under Finger IV 14–16, under Toe IV 18–22; 20) femoral pores in males 7–9; 21) four large preanal plate scales; 22) tail about 1.5–1.7 times longer than body (in juveniles); 23) caudals subimbricate, rugose to slightly keeled dorsally in adults, slightly keeled in juveniles, smooth ventrally; 24) lower palpebral disc transparent, undivided; 25) in life, dorsal surface of head, body and limbs light brown with fine dark brown speckling, dorsal surface of tail light brown with a reddish tint or reddish-brown markings; a tan or yellowish brown vertebral stripe bordered laterally by dark brown, vertebral stripe extends on head anteriorly and on tail caudally (inconspicuous in the female); a narrow dirty white to tan dorsolateral line extending on each side from above the tympanum to pelvic region (discontinuous caudally from the level of forelimbs in adults, reaching posterior edge of orbit in some individuals); a narrow dirty white to tan stripe running from above the orbit across parietals and first postparietals up to the neck (connected with the dorsolateral line in some individuals); a narrow white stripe extending from below of orbit to insertion of forelimbs (bordered dorsally by black in juveniles and some adults); minute ocelli-like white spots on flanks (most conspicuous at forearm insertion, absent in some adults); ventrolateral parts of flanks whitish brown; throat and belly creamy white with fine dark grey speckling inside the individual scales (yellowish white with black speckling in juveniles); ventral surfaces of limbs, anal area and tail yellowish white in males and juveniles, white in the female; iris tan with orange tint in males, tan in the female.

Etymology: The species epithet brava is derived from the Spanish adjective bravo (brave, courageous, wild; brava the feminine form) and refers to Río Bravo, the largest river in the area of occurrence of the new species, as well as to the fearless nature of the lizard to share shelter with people.

Distribution, natural history, and threat status: Selvasaura brava sp. n. is known from two localities lying at the northeastern border of the Pui Pui Protected Forest, ca. 18 km (straight airline distance) NW of the town of Satipo (Fig. 1). Both localities are located in the valley of the tributary of Río Bravo (on opposite banks of the tributary) about 500 m (straight distance) from each other. The valley and its slopes are covered by a primary montane rainforest characterized by 15–20 m high canopy and frequent occurrence of bromeliads, ferns, and epiphytic mosses (see also Lehr and Moravec (2017). All specimens of S. brava sp. n. were collected during the day within roofs of provisional camp shacks consisting of dried palm leaves and built by locals on small forest clearings (Fig. 8; MorphoBank picture: M485681). The roofs of the shacks were placed on 1.5–4 m pillars made of tree trunks and stood in an open space fully exposed to sun. The activity of all observed specimens seemed correlated with the intensity of solar radiation. During the sunny hours, the animals emerged from their shelters in the leaf layer, climbed and basked on the roof surface and searched for prey. As agile climbers, the lizards were able to climb up thin vertical tree trunks and jump between the palm leaves. These observations indicate that S. brava sp. n. represents an arboreal heliothermic species. Other gymnophthalmid species found at the type locality in sympatry with S. brava sp. n. included Potamites sp. (not included in the genetic analyses), which inhabited banks of small forest brooks, and Proctoporus sp. 4 (sensu this publication, Fig. 3) collected on the ground in the open clearing. With respect to the sparse data available, we suggest classifying S. brava as “Data Deficient” according to the IUCN red list criteria.

Figure 8. Type locality of Selvasaura brava sp. n. The lizards were active during the day basking and foraging in the leaves of the roof and on the shack pillars. They used the leaves on the roof as a refuge to hide in. Photograph by J. Moravec.


Jiří Moravec, Jiří Šmíd, Jan Štundl and Edgar Lehr. 2018. Systematics of Neotropical Microteiid Lizards (Gymnophthalmidae, Cercosaurinae), with the Description of A New Genus and Species from the Andean Montane Forests. ZooKeys. 774: 105-139.  DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.774.25332

[Ichthyology • 2018] Spectrolebias gracilis • A New Miniature Cryptic Species of the Seasonal Killifish Genus Spectrolebias (Cyprinodontiformes, Aplocheilidae) from the Tocantins River basin, central Brazil

Spectrolebias gracilis  Costa & Amorim, 2018 

The miniature seasonal killifish Spectrolebias costae, first described for the middle Araguaia River basin, has been also recorded from two areas in the middle Tocantins River basin, from where male specimens exhibit some differences in their colour pattern. Analyses directed to species delineation (GMYC and bPTP), using a fragment of the mitochondrial gene COI, strongly support two species, S. costae from the Araguaia River basin and a new species from the Tocantins River basin. Spectrolebias gracilis sp. n. is described on the basis of specimens collected from two localities separated by about 530 km, Canabrava River floodplains near Alvorada do Tocantins and Tocantins River floodplains near Palmeirante. Field inventories were unsuccessful in finding additional populations in the region, which is attributed to the high environmental degradation, including several large dams that have permanently inundated typical killifish habitats. Spectrolebias gracilis is member of a clade also including S. costae, S. inaequipinnatus, and S. semiocellatus, diagnosed by having the dorsal and anal fins in males with iridescent dots restricted to their basal portion, caudal fin in males hyaline, and caudal-fin base with two pairs of neuromasts. Within this clade, a single miniaturisation event is supported for the most recent common ancestor of the subclade comprising S. costae and S. gracilis, which differ from other congeners by reaching only about 20 mm standard length as maximum adult size.

Key Words: Amazon, Biodiversity conservation, Integrative taxonomy, Miniaturization, Molecular taxonomy, Species delimitation

Taxonomic accounts
Spectrolebias gracilis sp. n.

Diagnosis: Spectrolebias gracilis is member of a clade endemic to the Araguaia-Tocantins River System, also including S. costae, S. semiocellatus Costa & Nielsen, 1997 and S. inaequipinnatus Costa & Brasil, 2008, and morphologically diagnosed by: dorsal and anal fins in males with iridescent dots restricted to the basal portion of fins (vs. scattered over the whole fin), caudal fin in males hyaline (vs. variably coloured, usually dark red or grey), caudal-fin base with two pairs of neuromasts (vs. one). Spectrolebias gracilis is similar to S. costae and distinguished from S. semiocellatus and S. inaequipinnatus by having dorsal fin rounded in males (vs. pointed), dark brown to black pigmentation on the flank in males (vs. light brownish grey), and a subdistal bright blue stripe on the dorsal and anal fins in males (vs. subdistal bright blue absent). Spectrolebias gracilis differs from S. costae by the iridescent light blue colour pattern in males, comprising the presence of 10–12 small blue spots irregularly arranged on opercle, surrounded by diffuse blue iridescence (Fig. 4; vs. 6–8 small blue spots, usually arranged in three vertical series, contrasting with dark brown colour ground, Fig. 3) and one or two series of dots irregularly arranged on the basal portion of the dorsal fin (Fig. 4; vs. blue dots arranged in single longitudinal row close to fin base, Fig. 3).

Figure 4. Spectrolebias gracilis sp. n., UFRJ 6440, holotype, male, 19.2 mm SL; Canabrava floodplains. 

Figure 5. Spectrolebias gracilis sp. n., UFRJ 6441, paratype, female, 17.8 mm SL; Canabrava floodplains.

Etymology: From the Latin gracilis, meaning thin, referring to the thin body of the small-sized new species.

Distribution and habitat: Spectrolebias gracilis is known from temporary pools of two localities of the middle Tocantins River basin, central Brazil (Fig. 6). In both localities pools were shallow, about 80 cm in deeper places, and densely occupied by aquatic vegetation.

Figure 3. Specrolebias costae, UFRJ 3549, male, 18.8 mm SL; das Mortes River floodplains.

Wilson J. E. M. Costa and Pedro F. Amorim. 2018. A New Miniature Cryptic Species of the Seasonal Killifish Genus Spectrolebias from the Tocantins River basin, central Brazil (Cyprinodontiformes, Aplocheilidae).  Zoosystematics and Evolution. 94(2): 359-368.  DOI: 10.3897/zse.94.28085

[Botany • 2018] Ptilotus yapukaratja (Amaranthaceae) • A New Species from the Gascoyne Bioregion of Western Australia

Ptilotus yapukaratja R.W.Davis & T.Hammer

in Davis & Hammer, 2018.  

Ptilotus yapukaratja. plant in situ, showing habit and habitat.  
Image by K. Millet from K. Millet 346. 

Ptilotus yapukaratja R.W.Davis & T.Hammer, sp. nov. 

Diagnostic features: Ptilotus yapukaratja can be distinguished from all other Ptilotus R.Br. species by the following combination of characters: a rigid habit, glabrous incurved leaves, bracts longer than bracteoles, two fertile stamens, an excentrically placed style on the ovary, and a hairy ovary.

Ptilotus yapukaratja. a close-up showing an inflorescence with an open flower.
Image by K. Millet from K. Millet 346.

Distribution and habitat: Currently only known from north of Lorna Glen Station, where it is found at the base of breakaways on shallow rocky slopes in open scrub on brown clayey-sandy soils. 

Conservation status: To be listed as Priority One under Conservation Codes for Western Australian Flora (M. Smith perscomm.). Ptilotus yapukaratja is only known from the one remote location north of Lorna Glen Station. 

Etymology. The epithet derives from the Matuwa words yapu (rock) and karatja (belonging to), referring to the rocky habitat where the species occurs.

Robert W. Davis and Timothy A. Hammer. 2018. Ptilotus yapukaratja (Amaranthaceae), A New Species from the Gascoyne Bioregion of Western Australia. Nuytsia: The Journal of the Western Australian Herbarium. 29; 157–160. 


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

[Herpetology • 2018] Phylogenomics of Montane Frogs of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is Consistent with Isolation in Sky Islands Followed by Climatic Stability

Brachycephalus investigated in the present study. 
Brachycephalus brunneusB. izecksohni; B. fuscolineatus B. auroguttatus

in Pie, Faircloth, Ribeiro, et al., 2018.

Despite encompassing a relatively small geographical area, montane regions harbour disproportionately high levels of species diversity and endemism. Nonetheless, relatively little is known about the evolutionary mechanisms that ultimately lead to montane diversity. In this study, we used target capture of ultraconserved elements to investigate the phylogenetic relationships and diversification patterns of Melanophryniscus (Bufonidae) and Brachycephalus (Brachycephalidae), two frog genera that occur in sky islands of the southern Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Specifically, we tested whether diversification of montane species in these genera could be explained by a single climatic shift leading to isolation in sky islands, followed by climatic stability that maintained populations in allopatry. In both genera, the topologies inferred using concatenation and coalescent-based methods were concordant and had strong nodal support, except for a few recent splits, which nevertheless tended to be supported by more informative loci. Estimation of divergence time of a combined dataset using both genera is consistent with a concordant timing of their diversification. These results support the scenario of diversification by isolation in sky islands and suggest that allopatry attributable to climatic gradients in montane regions is an important mechanism for generating species diversity and endemism in these regions.

Brachycephalus, coalescent, Melanophryniscus, target enrichment, ultraconserved elements

Figure 1. Examples of the species of Brachycephalus investigated in the present study.
E, Brachycephalus brunneus. F, Brachycephalus izecksohni. G, Brachycephalus fuscolineatus. H, Brachycephalus auroguttatus.
Photographs by L.F. Ribeiro.

Marcio R. Pie, Brant C. Faircloth, Luiz F. Ribeiro, Marcos R. Bornschein and John E Mccormack. 2018. Phylogenomics of Montane Frogs of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest is Consistent with Isolation in Sky Islands Followed by Climatic Stability. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. bly093.   DOI: 10.1093/biolinnean/bly093   

Marcio R. Pie, Brant C Faircloth, Luiz Fernando Ribeiro, Marcos R. Bornschein and John McCormack. 2018. Phylogenomics of montane frogs of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest supports a scenario of isolation in sky islands followed by relative climatic stability. bioRxiv. 226159.  DOI: 10.1101/226159

[Botany • 2018] Vaccinium cebuense • Taxonomic Novelties from Cebu: A New Species of Vaccinium (Ericaceae) and A New Record of Phaius (Orchidaceae) for the Philippines

Vaccinium cebuense  

in Salares, Obico, Ormerod, et al., 2018. 

Vaccinium cebuense (Ericaceae) from Nug-as forest (Alcoy) and the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (Balamban), two of the last remaining forested areas of Cebu Island, Philippines, is here described as a new species. This species is unique among the known species of this genus in displaying a unique combination of characters: leaves with marginal glands that are spaced along the entire length of the leaf, anthers with distinct and recurved dorsal spurs, and petioles that are adaxially grooved. Our fieldwork in Nug-as also resulted in the discovery of Phaius reflexipetalus (Orchidaceae), a new record for the Philippines previously only known from Borneo. These and other recent taxonomic novelties emphasize the conservation importance of the few and small remaining forests of Cebu.

Keywords: Epidendroideae, Phaius sect. Pesomeria, Taxonomy, Vaccinium sect. Bracteata, Visayas, Monocots

Val B. Salares, Jasper John A. Obico, Paul Ormerod, Julie F. Barcelona and Pieter B. Pelser. 2018. Taxonomic Novelties from Cebu: A New Species of Vaccinium (Ericaceae) and A New Record of Phaius (Orchidaceae) for the Philippines. Phytotaxa. 360(3); 255–262.  DOI: 10.11646/phytotaxa.360.3.5

A new species of #Philippines #Vaccinium from #Cebu and a new country record of #Phaius: recent taxonomic novelties emphasize #conservation importance of the few remaining forest fragments of Cebu.  ||  @UCNZscience @UCNZbiology #CDFP #Ericaceae #Orchidaceae …

[Herpetology • 2018] Sinomicrurus houi • A New Species of the Genus Sinomicrurus Slowinski, Boundy & Lawson, 2001 (Squamata: Elapidae) from Hainan Province, China

Sinomicrurus houi Wang, Peng & Huang, 2018  

in Peng, Wang, Ding, Zhu, Luo, et al., 2018.
Hou’s Coral Snake || DOI: 10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.170090 

A new species of the coral snake genus Sinomicrurus is described based on four specimens from southern Hainan Island (three specimens from Tianchi, Jianfengling National Nature Reserve, one specimen from Diaoluoshan National Nature Reserve), Hainan Province, China. Morphologically, the new species is rather similar to Sinomicrurus kelloggi. However, it is distinct from S. kelloggi by the pattern on the head, the head length, head length/width, the number of infralabial scales, number of bands on dorsal body, and number of blotches on the belly.

Keywords: Hainan; morphology; taxonomy; Sinomicrurus kelloggiSinomicrurus houi sp. nov.

 Figure 5 Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. preyed on juveniles of Dinodon rufozonatum in captivity.
Photo by Hang Yang and Wei Li.

Figure 3 Dorsal head views of Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov.: holotype HUM20170001 (A), paratypes Re5410, CIB108251, HUM20170004 (B, C, D), morphological transition type from Vietnam (Orlov et al., 2003) and Yunnan (Sun et al., 2016) (E, F)
and typical Sinomicrurus kelloggi from Yunnan Province (Wang et al., 2015) and Anhui (Chen et al., 2013). (G, H). 

Photos by Lifang Peng and Diancheng Yang (A, B, C, D).

Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. Wang, Peng and Huang  
Suggest English name: Hou’s coral snake. 
Suggest Chinese name: 海南华珊瑚蛇 (Hǎi Nán Huá Shān Hú Shé).

Etymology: The species name is a patronym honoring Mian HOU (Sichuan Normal University, China), a modern herpetological enthusiast and naturalist. He has been contributing substantially to the taxonomy and life history of amphibians and reptiles for 20 years. He collected 3 of the 4 type specimens. 

Diagnosis: Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. differs from the known five congeners by a combination of the following characters: 1) dorsal scale rows (DSC) 15: 15: 15, smooth throughout; 2) ventrals (VL) 173–183; 3) subcaudals (SC) 27–38; 4) head relatively elongated, head length (HL) 2.0–2.1 times as long as head width (HW); 5) no loreal; 6) supralabials (SL) 7/7, infralabials (IL) 7/7; 7) dorsal surface scarlet, with 16–19 edged yellowish black bands on trunk of body, 2–4 on tail; 8) numbers of ventral spots 34–42; 9) dorsum of head having a narrow white broadwise band in the forefront of head (covering almost all the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th supralabials, preoculars, and continuing through forefront prefrontals) and two symmetric white stripes appearing a Chinese symbol for the figure eight (“ 八 ”, from both sides of frontal to neck sides and gradually widening); 10) maxillary teeth behind the fangs present.

Figure 4 The habitat of Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. on Tianchi, Jianfengling National Nature Reserve, Ledong County: A: The holistic habitat; B and D: the microhabitat; C: The microhabitat on the side of a stream where S. houi sp. nov. was found hunting.
Photos by Mian Hou. 

Distribution The new species is currently known from the National Nature Reserves of Diaoluoshan, Jianfengling and Wuzhishan (Chu and Huang, 1990; Zhao, 2004; Wang, 2014), Hainan Province, China.

Natural History Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. is a nocturnal terrestrial snake, living in the forest floor of montane rain forest, usually hidden in deciduous or humic layers very close to streams or ditches. It feeds primarily on snakes, consuming small snakes and the juveniles of snakes which live in the same habitats, such as Indotyphlops braminus, Argyrophis diardii, Hebius popei and H. boulengeri etc., presumably they also prey on grass lizards and skinks, and may also feed on the sleeping juveniles of Acanthosaura lepidogaster and Pseduocalotes microlepis resting on the roots of bushwoods. In captivity, they catch actively and feed on juveniles of Dinodon rufozonatum (Figure 5), Xenochrophis flavipunctatus, Pantherophis guttatus and skinks).

 Lifang Peng, Lijun Wanf, Li Ding, Yiwu Zhu, Jian Luo, Diancheng Yang, Ruyi Huang, Shunqing Lu and Song Huang. 2018. A New Species of the Genus Sinomicrurus Slowinski, Boundy and Lawson, 2001 (Squamata: Elapidae) from Hainan Province, China. Asian Herpetological Research. 9(2); 65-73. DOI: 10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.170090